It's British Sandwich Week. But, the humble butty is not just a British thing. Yes, the word sandwich is said to be derived from an English Earl but it's amazing to see what different nations choose to put between some bread. So, we've combined our two greatest passions in life (food and travel) to bring together this list of the most popular sandwiches from around the world.
Before we get onto that all-important run-down of the world's most popular sandwiches, we just wanted to mention that we've put together some rather fascinating sandwich facts too. If you want to know whether an oggie and scuffler are the same thing, interested to learn what makes up the world's most expensive sandwich and find out where you can see Dolly Parton sitting on a Hot Chicken Sandwich, then we suggest you visit our All About Sandwiches post too.
Here are just 12 of the most-popular butties from around the globe but there are many more so watch this space for part 2 (or even part 3). We've tried to incorporate as much detail on the ingredients in case you'd like to recreate at home.
United Kingdom - The Chip Butty
This is a British classic. Carbs on carbs. The essentials to this sandwich stalwart are:
Thick white sliced bread
Lashing of butter (not margarine)
Ensure a sufficient layer of butter so the hot chips get an extra coating of fat
Plenty of salt and vinegar - vinegar first so that the salt doesn't wash away
Sauce - this is optional and should be a choice of red (tomato) or brown.
If you're feeling a 'bit extra' opt for mayonnaise as an accompaniment
Vietnam - Bánh Mí
Bánh Mí is actually the Vietnamese word for bread. It also refers to a short baguette filled with various ingredients. Obviously, there's Asian influence in the choice of fillings - so grilled pork or chicken are often the meats of choice. Then there's the cucumber, herbs (like coriander) and pickled veggies. Look out for:
Bánh Mí Bi (Shredded Pork)
Bánh Mí Xiu Mai (Minced Pork Meatballs)
Bánh Mí Ga Nuong (Grilled Chicken)
Greece - Gyro
Made from meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie. Normally pork is used but chicken is common as well as lamb. If we said it's also known as doner kebab in Turkey, that's how some people know it. For me, the perfect Gyro starts with the pitta bread. Soft in the middle but toasted (if not slightly charred) on the outside. They beauty of a Gyro is that it's formation is highly personal. You can really focus on your fillings of choice making sure there's plenty of salad and tzatziki.
France - Croque Monsieur / Croque Madame
Rich, decadent and in no way low fat. Perfect heh? It's mouthful upon mouthful of creamy loveliness. Take some thick, buttered bread and fill with thick slices of ham, dijon mustard and cheese. Make sure the cheese has got 'meltability' - so an Emmenthal or Gruyere are good options. Fry in butter for extra calories - and the butter will turn the bread crunchy and golden. Finish with a bechamel sauce poured over the top which is them popped under the grilled to finish (until it goes brown and crispy). For a few extra calories and to be that bit extra, top off with an egg - but then you'll have to call it a Croque Madame.
Italy - Tramezzini
Who knew that the Italians were famous for sandwiches? Pizza - of course. Pasta - didn't they basically invent it? Panini's - OK I'll give you that. But, in the backstreets of Venice you'll find these delicate Tramezzini sold between breakfast and lunch. These finger-style sandwiches are the epitome of refinement - crustless, triangular and made with soft, white bread. The mayonnaise filling is always homemade too - but, if you're recreating this at home who will know whether it's homemade or Hellmanns?
Argentina - Choripan
Chorpian is a traditional Argentinian sandwich but it's not for the faint hearted! If you have an aversion to chilli, then skip this one. This sandwich is spicy. Could be down to the spicy chorizo. Could be the fiery Chimichurri Salsa. Whatever, if you tongue is sensitive to chilli then have a glass of milk of standby in case the spiciness of the sandwich catches you unaware. It's not a complicated sandwich to make at home - and that way it's easy to control the heat level.
Brazil - Bauru
Legend has it that this sandwich was the idea of a man from the Brazilian town of Bauru. He went to a Sao Paolo cafe and asked for a hot combo of roast beef, tomatoes, cheese and pickles.
The sandwich is made using a soft roll - so something like a classic sub roll would be the best. Mozzarella cheese is typically used because of it's melting qualities. As for pickles, I don't think you can beat Opies Cocktail Gherkins - they're the best!
Japan - Fruit Sando (Fruit Sandwich)
At first, I though this was a bizarre combination but having thought about it, it's not too hard to imagine. After all, when I was a kid and we had tinned fruit (usually for a Sunday evening 'treat') it was always served with Carnation Milk and a plate of white bread and butter - to mop up the juice. I always blamed this on my Gran - being a wartime cook and making ways that you could fill up the family. But, it's not something I ever enjoyed.
Perhaps my Gran was onto something - the Japanese obviously think so. For them, juicy, seasonal fruits are sandwiched amongst chilled whipped cream and two slices of milk bread. For them, it's mainly a breakfast dish - makes a change from cornflakes I suppose.
Singapore - Kaya Toast
Kaya Toast is a breakfast dish that originated in Singapore. To make a home, take 2 slices of buttered toast and spread with a generous layer of Kaya (Coconut Jam). I would probably stop there, but traditionally it's served alongside a soft-boiled egg. Sweet Coconut soldiers dipped into a runny egg doesn't really appeal to me ... but who knows? I'm probably missing out. But, I will probably stick to Kaya Toast with coffee instead.
Denmark - Smørrebrød
Considered one of the national dishes of Denmark. Smørrebrød translates as "buttered bread" but there's so much more to it. Usually made with buttered rye bread which delivers a dense, earthy flavour. Often topped with cold cuts, meats or fish, cheese, fresh salad leaves and garnish. They can be made so pretty. Remember - Smørrebrød are never eaten out of hand. Using a knife and fork is very much in order!
USA - Peanut Butter & Jelly
The humble peanut butter sandwich was a popular snack in the depression-riddled US in the 1930's. During World War II, jelly (or jam as we Brits know it) - was added to the military rations list and soon, soldiers realised the power of the PBJ. Since the end of the war the popularity of the three ingredients sandwich skyrocketed. According to a survey in 2016, the average American eats almost 3000 PBJ's in their lifetime. It's ingrained in US culture.
India - Chutney Sandwich
If there is anything that showcases a crash of cultures it's perhaps the chutney sandwich. The effect of the British Colonial rule is still rife (despite India's independence in 1947). Soft white bread is slathered edge-to-edge with butter. Then an authentic chutney is spread across the bread. The chutney is usually a verdant green colour made with coriander, ginger and plenty of green chilli. To Anglicise it further, the crusts are removed. Sometimes the sandwich is layered with slices of cucumber and tomato.